Vessel operators advised to take precautions against drifting timber debris


The mini log jam that occurred in Kapit area on Saturday night. – Photo via WhatsApp/Koh Kumbong

SIBU (Aug 23): Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) has issued notices to vessel operators, especially longboats and ‘penambangs’, to take necessary precautions in view of the drifting timber debris from the upper reaches of Baleh, its Sibu assistant controller (Region II) Hatta Morshidi said.

He also informed that based on the information they received, the drifting timber debris was expected to arrive in Sibu at 4pm yesterday, depending on the river current.

“We received the information on the drifting timber debris from upper reaches of Baleh. These debris are expected to reach Sibu around 4pm today depending on the current.

“The volume is not huge and is manageable. Our offices in Kapit, Song, Kanowit and Sibu are monitoring the situation very closely as we are concerned about the safety of navigation.

“We have issued and distributed notices to those vessel operators especially the longboats and ‘penambangs’ to advise them to take the necessary care and precaution while plying the river,” Hatta told The Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.

Earlier yesterday, officer in charge of Kapit SRB, Carol Bungan, said the mini log jam, which occurred in Kapit area on Saturday night was still under control.

Noting that the situation this time is not as bad as that of the 2010 episode, Carol said her department is monitoring the situation closely.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy in a media statement said that it is on high alert to assess and manage the potential impact of floating timber debris washed down from upstream by strong river currents and accumulating at the diversion tunnels inlet portal of Baleh Hydroelectric Project.

The Baleh HEP river site experienced a sudden inflow of floating timber debris from upstream on Saturday at around 12noon following heavy rainfall, the press release said, adding that this has impeded safe navigation of the river.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing, in a press statement yesterday, lamented the devastating effect of the logjam that is happening at Batang Baleh.

“The first serious logjam in the head waters of Batang Baleh was in 2010. The jam stretched all the way from Kapit to Sibu. It resulted in riverine traffic jam. Dead fish, wildlife including crocodiles were found dead floating in the river,” he stated.